Error Naidoo takes on Lucifer, triumphs.

We don’t know for sure that it was Error Naidoo and his band of hyperbolic homophobes that succeeded in getting the TV show Lucifer moved to a fringe channel and a later time-slot on Dstv, but this is what has happened. (Mumford and Sons, meanwhile, have been moved to an earlier time-slot, to help attendees stay awake.)

Here’s Error’s expression of concern:


(Remember, DO NOT FORWARD it to the BCCSA!)

Lucifer is not a good show. I enjoyed the first episode, but when I realised that the second episode was just like the first one, it seemed clear to me that I had been deceived – perhaps by Satan himself – into giving the show undue credit.

But even though it’s not a good show, it hardly falls into the category of things that necessitate a moral panic. For one, Lucifer is a (relatively) good guy in this show. He works with the cops to solve cases, is troubled by his emerging humanity, and rejects Hell and its torture devices in favour of staying on Earth.

Basically, he’s like Idris Elba’s Luther, except played by a worse actor, and with more wisecracks than wry wisdom. Despite this, I can understand why good Christian folk, who cleave to a certain view of Lucifer as being a) real and b) evil might not want their kids exposed to such things.

Changing the channel is, of course, an option. But just as we saw in the idiotic debate around porn on TopTV, some parents are perhaps worried that its mere availability is soul-corrupting, while being simultaneously oblivious to the fact that kids can watch whatever they like on the Internet, whenever they like.

As I pointed out with regard to the Charlie Charlie hysteria, seeing these things as fables takes the sting out of them, and it’s taking them seriously in the first place that allows for harms to accrue.

Yet, I could nevertheless imagine myself being sympathetic to parents’ concerns, if they were expressed in ways that indicated that they were motivated by a value preference, a lack of ability to police their kids, concern for the moral fabric of society and the like.

What we see, though – at least if the second link above, and Naidoo, are a reliable index, is simple unreflective panic, and a desire to enforce one version of moral rectitude on everyone. We are a Christian society in terms of numbers, yes, but we’re a legally secular society.

This should to my mind mean that if you (as a Christian) get to tell people, at 10am on a Sunday, that they are sinning by having premarital sex, those same Christians should have to endure others being told, at 7pm on a Wednesday, that Satan is a wisecracking funster.

The latter is of course also portrayed as fiction, and the former as fact, where we all happily go along with the charade that there’s any factual distinction to be made between the cases at all.

In other words, the media airspace builds in a bias, in treating religiously-motivated programming as worthy of a respect that isn’t granted to other mythological offerings. That’s fine – I can change the channel. But it also makes it all the more absurd when people respond to Lucifer by saying things like

DStv is broadcasting this series on Wednesday evening, that actively portrays Satan/ Lucifer as a hero to innocent people who might not know better. Has he succeeded in deceiving DStv and South African Christians, to believe that this is an innocent fable as well? In the meantime I cannot support DStv while they are actively spreading Satan’s word.

or perhaps more to the point, when they say things like “I know one can block it or remove the channel but that is not the point, what has become of morality and values?”

What has become of morality and values, dear letter-writer, is that you’ve stopped reading about them, stopped thinking about them, stopped teaching them to your kids, and, to be frank, stopped caring about them by simply substituting crude placeholders for “morality and values” – like a TV show about a fictional character – for the real thing.

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.